The Psychology of Business Cards

by Arthur Piccio on 12/06/2012

by Arthur Piccio  |  December 6, 2012  |  Design, Print Tips

Designed by Kaixer group

Everyone knows that your name, title, and contact information belong on your business card. But how do you make sure the card doesn’t end up in a desk drawer, never to re-emerge again? For starters, take the time to craft an aesthetically pleasing card that conveys your intended message. These cards are your first impression with other professionals, so make sure the design is impressive and memorable.

You can do this by considering the psychology of the major elements of a business card. Keep in mind that this article won’t be talking about the actual words, so that aspect is up to you. However, these tips will assist you in making great, appropriate design decisions that will lead to positive interpretations of your brand.

 

Font Choice

Aside from the general disdain the general population has for Comic Sans, font preference isn’t necessarily a common pop culture discussion. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a discussion that shouldn’t be had, especially if you’re any sort of content creator—business cards included. So how do you pick which fonts to use?

One of the most basic decisions is whether you want to use serif or sans-serif fonts. Typically, sans-serif fonts are used for titles and headers while serif fonts are for bodies of text.

You can stick with this convention, but no matter what you decide, don’t choose two different fonts of the same type (like your name in Times New Roman and your other information in Georgia). This presents a cluttered effect, which would have a negative impact on the reader. Stick with one font or use pairs appropriately.

When choosing a typeface, make sure it can be easily read. Think about spacing—between letters, words, and lines—because proper spacing allows your brain to process the words faster. One tip is to make sure the line height is larger than the point size of the font.

On a more subjective level, it’s important to consider what your goal is. What mood do you want to communicate? The answer to this question can guide you aesthetically. With so many fonts to choose from, you might have to try several before you land on the right one. Consider the YouTube logo as an example. Imagine if the font were any of these:

They all have a completely different vibe, right? One trick for picking a font is to type out certain characteristics you think the font might possess in that specific font. Is it fun, energetic, tense, etc.?

Seeing the words in the font they potentially correspond with will help you determine if it’s a good match. Also, consider if you can identify the opposite mood of the font. If you can’t, that probably means it’s not very clear and you can pick a better option.

 

Whitespace

When the spacing between words and lines was mentioned earlier, that was referring to micro white space, in contrast to macro white space, which involves the larger, empty areas of a design.

Both are extremely important and shouldn’t be overlooked. Just because you have space doesn’t mean you should fill it up—it leaves the recipient of the information feeling overwhelmed and confused about what they should be looking at and what is most important.

Another element to consider is more whitespace is generally associated with sophistication while less whitespace is often associated with cheap design. This helps explain why so many business cards take the simplistic approach and include the basic text, a lot of whitespace, and maybe a few engaging graphical or design elements.

Whitespace can also help you highlight the important parts of the card. Calculated spacing can make a certain element stand apart from the others, making it more eye-catching and thus communicating it’s more important than the other text or images.

Color Choices

Nothing makes a design pop like color, so how can you implement color psychology into your choices to make as statement? The most basic route is incorporating colors from your logo (which will most likely be on your card). However, if you have some more options to work with, choose one prominent color you’d like to represent your brand.

Before making your decision, think about how colors are interpreted. Here are some examples:

  • Red → love, energy, danger
  • Yellow → intelligence, caution, cowardice
  • Blue → peacefulness, confidence, sincerity
  • Orange → creativity, innovation, thinking
  • Green → money, growth, life

What are your brand’s values, and how do they correspond with the emotional impact of different colors? To get an even more in-depth look at how colors can impact design, check out the article 19th-Century Insight into the Psychology of Color and Emotion.

Consider these elements, but also remember colors can mean more than these traditional ideas of symbolism. Re-branding a color itself is always possible, but still try to put some reasoning into why you choose a specific color.

Regardless of what you decide to do with typography, color, and whitespace, make sure you’re not making choices arbitrarily. There are countless ways to spice up your business cards and brand them effectively, so think about these different design aspects and experiment with different methods of engagement.

This post was written by

Arthur Piccio is UPrinting.com's Small Business and Public Relations Coordinator.

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